A FATHER who had acid sprayed in his face said he feared he would never see his children again.
Darren Pidgeon, 27, from Rayleigh, spoke out in a desperate appeal for information after the unprovoked attack.
Mr Pidgeon, a carer, was hospitalised for four weeks and underwent multiple skin grafts during months of treatment.
As he stopped his car near Kingsmere, in Thundersley, a man and a woman, whom he believes followed him from Rayleigh, pulled over.
The man walked up to Mr Pidgeon’s open window and shouted “what’s your problem?”
before spraying the substance into Mr Pidgeon’s eyes.
The father-of-two said: “I could feel my eyes burning, but didn’t know it was acid at first. I used my arms to protect my face as he kept spraying and spraying for about a minute until it ran out. I have never experienced pain like it.
“Then he started punching me.
I screamed and thought I had to defend myself because I couldn’t let him keep punching me or he will kill me.
“I tried to get out of the car and he ran and drove off. I could see the girl he was with smiling. It looked like she was laughing. It was a game to them.
“He sprayed everywhere in my car. It went on the child seat. I had dropped my children off earlier, but they could have been there with me. He wasn’t to know.
“A woman washed my eyes and I want to thank her. Without that, I could have been blind.
I might not have been able to see my children. I am so glad I can.”
Mr Pidgeon was taken to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford.
Surgeons used skin from his leg to try and heal burns to his face, head, shoulder and arm.
Now he is undergoing physio to heal his arm and must exercise his face to prevent losing his facial expressions.
Doctors expect the healing to take two years, but Mr Pidgeon, who has moved to London due to the attack, said the effects will last a lifetime.
He said: “I don’t want people to see me. I don’t look the same any more.”
Police initially thought the incident was a road rage attack after an altercation at the Rayleigh Weir roundabout, but enquiries have now ruled this out.
Mr Pidgeon added: “I would like to ask my attacker one question: Why did you do that to me?
“I hope people can come forward with information, otherwise they might do it to someone else who won’t be as lucky as me.
Some people get kicks out of something like this.”
Police are appealing for information, particularly about a man in his early thirties whom they believe may have been involved.
He is about 5ft 8ins to 5ft 10ins tall, slim with short, light coloured hair. He wore a light grey polo shirt, blue denim jeans and a black hoodie.
Det Sgt Mike Calvert said: “This was an unprovoked attack, which has caused appalling injuries to the victim.”
Anyone with information about the assault, which happened at about 11.30pm on June 3, is urged to contact detectives at Southend police station on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.